Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Whitburn Hit a Glorious 150

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Whitburn Hit a Glorious 150

Article excerpt

ON Whit Monday 1862, 22 cricketers played in the grounds of Whitburn Hall, then reportedly "partook of an excellent dinner and spent an agreeable evening", writes STUART RAYNER. Whitburn Cricket Club had been born. The next day, half were back for a match against Monkwearmouth Eden. However much they enjoyed themselves the previous evening, it did not stop a home victory, by 35 runs.

At 11am on Monday the club will mark the occasion with another day that will be part-cricket, part-social.

In place of the mid-19th Century game around the sycamore tree that once stood in the outfield will be 21st Century, Twenty20 cricket.

A barbecue will have to provide the "excellent dinner", a disco the "agreeable evening". Much as Whitburn will enjoy looking back on its 150-year history, there is still an eye on the future.

For a bit of fun organised by Sir Hedworth Williamson, the club has been remarkably resilient.

It survived an attempt to turn the ground into houses in the 1960s, and was bought back by local businessmen Matty Roseberry and Barrie Emmerson - the second of three generations of Whitburn wicketkeepers.

It also survived Cumbrian Seafoods going into receivership 12 months into a three-year sponsorship deal.

Their links with Sunderland Football Club have helped. As well as providing players such as Leighton James and Len Ashurst - and the opposition for many a friendly - the latter's connections have been crucial in Whitburn's fundraising efforts. The former Roker Park manager is heading the drive to raise pounds 10,000 for new seats and an electronic scoreboard.

Black Cats vice-chairman David Miliband was guest speaker at a recent event, and a host of Ashurst's former players have entertained there.

But Whitburn are not just surviving for the sake of it.

They won the last of nine championships in 1964, having claimed the Durham Senior League for four consecutive seasons in the 1920s, and have produced a regular stream of Durham players. …

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